Noting that preferred walking speed is an indicator of walking ability, prosthetic walking potential, and function, researchers set out to determine which hip muscle and joint torque parameters best determine preferred walking speed in people with unilateral lower-limb amputations.

Seventeen patients with a lower-limb amputation participated in the cross-sectional study (six transfemoral, four knee disarticulation, and seven transtibial; 16 men, one woman; mean age 56 ±15 years). Maximal joint torque and power were evaluated unilaterally for each participant’s amputated and intact limbs, in isometric and isokinetic conditions during hip flexion/extension (60°/s and 180°/s) and abduction/adduction (30°/s and 90°/s). Preferred walking speed was measured at habitual walking speed over 10 meters.

Correlations between hip muscle performance parameters and preferred walking speed were found in most cases. The multiple regression model revealed that the best independent predictors of preferred walking speed were hip extension power at 180°/s on the amputated side and the asymmetry of hip abduction power at 30°/s, accounting for 82 percent of the variance in preferred walking speed, according to the study’s authors.

The study was published April 1 in Gait & Posture.